by Susan Russell, Canon for Engagement Across Difference, Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles
Our diocesan One in the Spirit initiative continues its work of expanding relationships and deepening connections across differences to strengthen our shared commitment to follow Jesus. Created in response to the increasing polarization and deepening divisions in our church, our nation, and our world, we believe one of the tasks in front of us in these challenging times is to recover our deep connection to each other and to our world so we can participate more fully in the transforming work of love.
In the days and weeks ahead, we will be calling the Diocese of Los Angeles to participate in intentional opportunities for conversation across difference … conversations which our Presiding Bishop has declared are “A spiritual practice of love in action.”
Those conversations are part of “From Many, One: Conversations Across Difference” — a campaign inviting Episcopalians and our neighbors to engage in one-to-one listening and sharing across the many differences that separate us. The conversations center on four questions: What do you love? What have you lost? Where does it hurt? What do you dream?
Resources on the Episcopal Church website (in both English and Spanish) include a discussion guide, video examples of folks engaging in the process by having a conversation together, and a story space to share a description of what it was like to have these conversations or a poem, prayer, or image that your conversation inspired you to create or discover.
I was honored to be invited to participate in one of those video conversations across difference with Bishop Greg Brewer of the Diocese of Central Florida. Over the years Bishop Greg and I have found each other on opposite sides of some of the most controversial issues challenging the Episcopal Church we both love and serve. Those differences remain and we will both continue to hold our strongly held perspectives. But what we hope we modeled in our 15 minute conversation is that beneath those differences are also common values, experiences, hopes and dreams.
You can view that video here.
What I hope this campaign can and will do is invite us all to expand our capacity to engage across the differences that challenge us — increasing our commitment to respect the dignity of every human being as we strive without ceasing for justice and peace among all people. And what I pray we — the Episcopal Church — can through this work be is part of change we want see in our nation: working together to make liberty and justice not just a pledge we make but a reality we live.